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DuPage County family law attorneyIf you are a divorced or unmarried parent whose child spends time with your former partner, you undoubtedly have concerns that they are being well-cared for and protected. This is hard enough when there is no rational reason to suspect a problem. When your child’s other parent is battling issues with alcohol use, however, the stakes get very high, very quickly. While you may not be able to control the other parent’s behavior, parenting style, or lifestyle choices, there are ways that you can ensure that your child is protected.

Determine the Scope of the Problem

The first thing you will need to do is determine how serious the other parent’s problem is or could be. One good way of estimating this is by considering how you learned about the possible issue. Was alcohol a problem for him or her during your relationship? If so, was it simply a need to drink or was it a binge-drinking problem? If you have heard rumors from friends or have seen on social media that the other parent is out partying from time to time, you will need to look deeper. If, on the other hand, your child tells you that the other parent had too much to drink and passed out on the sofa while your child was still awake—and it happens regularly—you need to take action. Reports of drinking and driving with your child in the car must also be taken very seriously.

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Posted on in Visitation

Lombard family law attorneyAs a parent, there is nothing more important to you than the safety and well-being of your child. If you share parenting responsibilities or even just parenting time with your former partner, you can only hope that he or she shares your focus on your child’s best interests. But, what if he or she does not? What if he or she is not able to separate his or her own wants and needs from those of your child? Can you do anything about it? The answer—as with most aspects of divorce and family law—is that it depends on the specifics of your situation and whether your child is in serious danger.

Be Objective

Illinois law provides a court with the authority to limit a parent’s time with his or her child if such parenting time presents a serious danger to the child’s physical, emotional, mental, or moral health. What constitutes a serious danger is left to the interpretation of the court. You, as a parent, are very close to the situation, and you may find it difficult to determine what is a serious danger and what is simply parenting in a different manner than yours.

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Lombard family law attorneysAt the beginning of 2016, sweeping amendments to Illinois state law changed the terminology and application of child-related matters during divorce. Child custody became known as the allocation of parental responsibilities and visitation was renamed as parenting time. These changes are meant to reduce contention, preserve family bonds, and keep children at the center of divorce proceedings. Understand how this may affect your case, and how you can effectively navigate the process.

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities in Illinois

Under the new provisions, decision-making regarding where a child will go to school, what church they will attend, where the child will reside, if and when they should have certain medical or surgical procedures, and other important decisions are known as the allocation of parental responsibilities. It may be split equally among parents, or the most authority may go to the parent that has the greatest amount of parenting time. Alternatively, there are situations in which the parent with the least amount of parenting time will have the most decision-making power. Essentially, the circumstances are as varied as each individual family.

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Lombard family law attorneyOnce your divorce is finalized, you and your family embark on new journeys and a brand new way of life. When you and your ex-spouse share children, arrangements for visitation (parenting time) and the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) are made, resulting in new routines and a lifestyle that you and your children were not previously accustomed to before the divorce. While these new arrangements can take some getting used to, they often result in happier, healthier homes and habits for the whole family.

Non-Parent Involvement

During the divorce process, and often through mediation, you are expected create a parenting plan for how you will continue to raise your children and make decisions for your children based on their best interest. Outside influences must also be taken into consideration, such as grandparents, mentors, and close family friends.

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